Last month, I discussed how the most influential disrupter to the enhanced benefits industry must be the willingness of the broker community at large to adjust, adapt, and embrace our ever-changing market. How brokers must position themselves as either an innovator who drives change or an adopter who follows those innovators and helps to steer the change. The bottom line was that whether you choose to outsource your enhanced benefits strategy to one specific carrier, bring it all in-house, or partner with a carrier agnostic firm, the key to success is to be proactive with whatever approach you choose.
As you begin to have proactive conversations with your clients to ensure they have a proper enhanced benefits offering that complements your recommended overall health care strategy, it’s important that you understand all of the products and services that are available within the marketplace. The message to your clients must be that you’re looking to eliminate benefit redundancy, and any wasteful employee overspend that may have occurred during an initial “product-dump” that led to an inevitable “commission grab” by whomever first installed enhanced products and services with little regard to the total health care plan.
Most health insurance brokers have recommended and installed short-term disability, long-term disability, life, dental, and vision alongside health insurance for many years. After all, these are considered part of the “core” group products that are often heavily subsidized or even fully funded by the employer. I actually refer to these types of products as “traditional,” whereby my definition of “core” greatly differs from that of a health insurance broker. That’s not to say these traditional group products aren’t important – in fact, these benefits, along with a strong health plan, provide the base foundation to a company’s total package.
The key is to take your client’s “traditional” package and proactively help them transform it into a next generation offering that is second to none. Doing so means strategically designing and recommending any of the following benefits and ensuring they’re installed in concert to fit within your client’s overall health care strategy.
Core enhanced benefits typically consist of accident, hospitalization and critical illness. As vital as these core benefits are in the enhanced benefits space, what about some benefit offerings that are often overlooked?
For example, are you designing a robust maternity package for your clients that far exceeds an ordinary short-term disability plan? What about helping to mitigate your client’s yearly worker’s compensation (WC) increases (whether you handle their property and casualty or not) by proactively suggesting a company-funded or partially funded off-the-job accident product to help lessen the many Monday morning WC claims they may be experiencing? When’s the last time you thought about recommending an employer-funded gap plan? Pairing an employer-paid gap plan with a high-deductible health care plan can save an employer a significant amount of money. Furthermore, offering employees with a voluntary buy-up option can minimize the out-of-pocket deductible for health insurance. Does your client know that there’s actually a term-life product that goes past age 100, has paid up death benefits starting in year 10, and has a long-term care (LTC) rider that can pay up to three times the death benefit for LTC coverage?
These are just a handful of questions and ideas that a strong enhanced benefits partner should be having a conversation with you about to better serve your clients effectively. All of them provide creative new ways to increase client loyalty and further improve your client’s ability to attract and retain the best employees. Will each scenario mentioned be a perfect fit for every client? Of course not. But that doesn’t negate the fact that these questions, and ones like them, should be addressed and thought through with purpose and intent.
Value-added services and non-insurance disruption
Would your employer group clients and their respective employees see value in any of the following value-added services and non-insurance products on the market? Single-point consolidated billing, benefit administration systems, zero-cost Section 125 plan document preparation, flex spending, discount prescriptions, identity theft and fraud protection, telemedicine services, or even a single benefits “app” for employees too access their entire health care package on-demand, including a 24/7 concierge.
These are just some of the many services and non-insurance products that your clients are being approached with by carrier reps and other brokers daily. Do you offer all of these services and non-insurance products in-house? Have you aligned with a strong enhanced benefits partner who can bring all of these, and more, to the forefront of your client conversations? If you’re not having these conversations with your clients proactively, I assure that it’s not a matter of if your clients will learn about these cutting-edge offerings, but only a matter of when and who proactively begins the conversation and in turn, secures the broker of record.
If you’re having trouble answering any of the questions discussed herein, know that you’re not alone. I would no sooner attempt to discuss health insurance and self-funding with any of my clients than a busy health insurance broker like you should be attempting (on your own) to discuss enhanced benefits with your clients. Just as it took you many years to become the health insurance expert that you are today, understand that it also took me many years to become an enhanced benefits expert. The fact is, it wouldn’t be feasible for you to personally learn the enhanced benefits space at a level that would be beneficial to your clients in a timely fashion. Thus, why not partner with a proven enhanced benefits boutique who can enable you to hit the ground running and maximize the opportunities within your existing book of business, all while helping your clients succeed in this specialized area of benefits?
Now that we discussed the types of products and services that a properly selected and proven enhanced benefits partner can bring to your clients, what about the specific broker services that can be brought to you and your firm? Things like distribution, contract and compensation audits, revenue sharing agreements, and branding services. Part three is coming soon – and in the meantime, your questions and opinions are always welcome and encouraged. Happy hunting!